Children of prisoners: exploring the impact of families' reappraisal of the role and status of the imprisoned parent on children's coping strategies

Martin Manby, Adele Diana Jones, Liliana Foca, Justyna Bieganski, Sylvia Starke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Qualitative data from a larger study on the impact of parental imprisonment in four countries found that children of prisoners face fundamentally similar psychological and social challenges. The ways that children cope, however, are influenced by the interpretative frame adopted by the adults around them, and by how issues of parental imprisonment are talked about in their families. This article argues that families have to reappraise their view of the imprisoned parent and then decide on their policy for how to deal with this publicly. Their approach may be based on openness and honesty or may emphasise privacy and secrecy, or a combination of these. Children are likely to be influenced by their parents’/carers’ views, although these may cause conflict for them. Where parents/carers retain a positive view of the imprisoned parent, children are likely to benefit; where parents/carers feel issues of shame and stigma acutely, this is likely to be transmitted to their children. This is important for social workers and practitioners involved in supporting prisoners’ families and for parenting programmes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-245
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date20 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2015


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